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Fire escapism

By Tom Toles



Crime and punishment

I rub my very eyes in disbelief that Michelle Obama's trip to Europe is a "controversy." That "questions" about the "optics" or "timing" or "sensitivity" of a trip to Spain received more than one paragraph anywhere tells you lots about the unseriousness of American politics and media. And so unserious I shall be.

Where does one turn for RELIABLE information about chastising errant behavior? To the Times Encyclopedia and Gazetteer, 1933 edition, where else? And it clears up one very common confusion, specifically about the "Cucking-stool." Let me quote, so there will be no further misunderstanding on this. It's "a chair used for punishment. Scolds, cheating bakers or brewers, and other petty offenders were placed in it, usually at their own doors, to be hooted at and pelted by the mob. It has frequently been confounded with the ducking stool." I know what you're wondering. What then WAS that ducking stool that so confounds us? Well, that would be "a chair in which scolding and vixenish wives were formerly securely fastened, to receive the punishment of being ducked in water." Enter Dick Cheney.

Where do Mrs. Obama and all the scolding critics fit into this? Let the pelting mobs decree. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | August 11, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Environment & global warming  
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Next: Thought for food

Other Syndicated Editorial Cartoons:


Fire does not burn.

Water cannot drown.

Crops will grow under any conditions.

The phytoplankton is fine.

CO2 does not cause climate change.

Posted by: mike_midwest | August 13, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles does a great job covering Michelle's substantial derriere.

I suppose in the Obamas' mind the Spanish economy was more deserving of the cash stimulus from Michelle's visit than America's Gulf Coast.

Maybe Spain's disastrous headlong rush into the sunshine and breezes energy black hole had something to do with it.

Posted by: spamsux1 | August 12, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I have hear that today only. USA are going to help Russia in trouble and sending us 55000$ ! That is precisely twice less then rebuilding one house. We got here 22 regions suffering from fire - so every region is endowed with almost 2500$ ! Ah, well, thanks neverless.

Posted by: IWH_rus | August 12, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I have hear that today only. USA are going to help Russia in trouble and sending us 55000$ ! That is precisely twice less then rebuilding one house. We got here 22 regions suffering from fire - so every region is endowed with ~2500$ ! Ah, well, thanks neverless.

Posted by: IWH_rus | August 12, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Let's see. There are those who think mankind is changing the climate - and those who don't. Seems the credibility is on the side of those who do:

Posted by: AugustWest1964 | August 11, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The cost of Michelle Obama's trip to Spain is newsworthy? Must be a REALLY slow day. Call it a fact-finding trip, and let's move on.

Climate change in Russia? So, Russia is subject to planetary climate change just the same as other countries? How... surprising.

Someone said, "Fossil fuels drive this economy and will continue to." My question, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, is, "For how long, exactly?" Knowing that the answer is, "For as long as it is economical to use them."

All things considered, we're likely already past that point... unless insurance companies are now also part of the conspiracy, which, if you think about it, makes as much sense as believing science and the laws of physics are also part of the same nasty conspiracy.

Let's face it, folks: Reality has a definite Liberal bias.

Posted by: jonroesler | August 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I LOVED the Net Neutrality 'toon. I wish more people were aware and alarmed about it!

Posted by: KarylMiller | August 11, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

You are right. I, for one, apologize for being “climatically incorrect,” concerning my reference to the earth’s climate status quo.
I would also like to add…so, we now have ice caps melting, massive flooding, drought, hellish storms, “solar tsunamis,” massive sink holes, earthquakes, etc. Do you really think arguing about these conditions is doing anything positive? I mean REALLY, what can we do to stop the chaos?? I’m guessing, nothing, though I suppose this is one way to come to terms with the fact that things aren’t looking too positive for the inhabitants of this planet.
In which case, I guess, I have to agree with BertEisenstein : )

Bobbo2, why do you have such a negative attitude when it comes to alternative energy sources?
You seem to have no problem when it comes to the use of fossil fuels and the jobs they produce.
What is wrong with ‘harnessing’ the wind and sun? Must every energy source come from within the bowels of the earth?
Just consider for a moment the added plus this technology would bring…not just on the ease of fossil fuel usage but also the influx of jobs which this country is so in need of.
That would truly help the economy. Wouldn’t it?

Posted by: bertzel | August 11, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

@tomtildrum wrote:
"Remember, weather does not equal climate, except when it's hot."
except maybe when it's the deniers who are using a single snow storm to 'prove' climate change isn't happening at all?

Posted by: rpixley220 | August 11, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Folks, it's pointless to argue with bobbo and others in here about the reality of global warming. There is plenty of sociological and psychological research out there that says when some adults make up their mind about something they choose to believe in or not believe in, trying to change their matter how much evidence and how many facts you present...only entrenches their position.

People like this will sit in the back yard, watch as ice on their local lakes form later every year and melt sooner, watch as the birds that used to live in their part of the world no longer come around, see that their rain gauge records fewer rain events that each contain a much greater amount of precipitation, and watch the news showing great masses of ice...present in the same location for hundreds of thousands of years...break off and float away, and they will still sit back and say, "It's all has nothing to do with this."

So, fellow "elitists" who believe in this "global warming BS", save your breath. Science and facts will never change the minds of certain folks. They don't want to believe it because it represents a threat to their reality. "Change" is hard.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | August 11, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

LOL! Clearly the "in 1000 years" message is lost on the alarmists, including the cartoonist. Even as they admit it has been hotter without CO2 in abundance in the atmosphere, they tell us to ignore history, and believe that the last few years have been the "hottest ever."

Posted by: infuse | August 11, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Remember, weather does not equal climate, except when it's hot.

Posted by: tomtildrum | August 11, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

We are stupid. But don't fret. The cosmos was designed to carry on in spite of us and in fact with or without us. The historical climate record informs us there have been recurring climate swings that our present culture and society could not survive should they be repeated and they will be. Armed with this knowledge, thoughtful people would make some plans to deal with it; not argue about whether humans are the proximate cause and do nothing. I suppose one could argue that we are in the data gathering and decision making phase and greens are simply early adopters of the decision to stop pooping our nest. And if one thinks we are currently in hard times, wait until a super volcano erupts, a comet or meteor impacts, ice age, mega-drought, sea level rises, etc., etc., etc. We need a plan to get off this planet or the ability to terra form it. It is not safe here.

Posted by: BertEisenstein | August 11, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Just got back from California. It was twelve degrees *cooler* than average, like it's been all summer. Glorious.

Oh, wait... what?

Posted by: dell4 | August 11, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

A) The correct term is "Climate Change", not "Global Warming". As greenhouse gasses build up in the atmosphere, the weather becomes more extreme in all forms (tornadoes, Artic storms, etc.), not simply hotter (although it's done that in many areas as well).
B) There seems to have been very little coverage of the 97-MILE chunk that just broke off an iceberg in Greenland this week - the largest since 1962. Have fun swimming!

Posted by: SubRosa2 | August 11, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone ever noticed that warmers NEVER say anything nice about our weather? And that they only carp about it? That they refuse to talk about any weather cycles that don't support their patterns. That they promote ice ages and cooling cycles as the result of global warming and not just the earth doing it's thing? Battery cars will remain a novelty without a completely practical battery. Pinwheels will not save us nor will solar panels. Fossil fuels drive this economy and will continue to. Wrecking our economy will not fix the weather. What the warmers and the left hate is that the weather and the American people refuse to be legislated into line concerning their beliefs. Anyone remember the volcano last year? Are we still suffering from it's consequences? No we are not. Give the earth some credit for being so resilient.

Posted by: bobbo2 | August 11, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

The person who is fixated on warming is like a "one trick pony" and needs to see tht warming is not the only problem we face. Think of other problems and let us get ready for them - too. Not in place of. In addition to.

Wake up, Mr. Toles.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | August 11, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

So if this is the worst in Russia in a "1000 years" your cartoon sort of disproves the man made global warming theory doesn't it?

Posted by: jornolibist | August 11, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Well... This "worst fires for 1000 years" not just scary number. About 1000 years ago Greenland was green, you know. And in the 1364 year smoke and ashes occupied russian air for 3 months. According to our chronicles.

And in the 1500-th the "lesser ice age" was started. And it lasted till 1900-th.

Facts are stubborn. Humans may have some influance on the climat. Yet climat also have his own rythm.

Posted by: IWH_rus | August 11, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Look its summer time and liberals are pushing their man made global warming hoax again. It has been hot in DC, but this part of the globe always gets hot this time of year. The all time record high temperature for August in DC was 106F set on the 6th of August 1918 and the next day on the 7th of August in 1918 another record was set at 104F. Just think today it's only going to be 97F. First they came for your SUV and next they thought it might be a good idea if we all had to use a push mower....

Posted by: carbonhog | August 11, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

The latest theory seems to be that the Russian fires, Pakistani floods (13+million displaced!) and the Chinese Floods/landslides are all connected. By the CHANGE in the "jet stream". (normally about 600 miles per hour but too high to have much effect. Source UK Telegraph). Which is now lower and has split into two streams, one fixed over Pakistan-China and the other causing a high pressure trough over Russia.

Which is not thought to have happened before.

Could be global warming, or, the Gulf stream loop that goes around the Gulf of Mexico is broken, meaning different heat transfers across the Atlantic. (Thank you BP?) Changing it's characteristics.

The ducking stool worked wonderfully, if you were innocent you drowned, and if you were guilty you survived and were burnt at the stake. Bit like "human" Global warming, right or wrong you still get it up the backside.

Posted by: Stonebird | August 11, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

We here in Russia having a wet weather mostly. What is why our forests grows. And there is a swamps in forests because of wet. And there is a peat because of swamp you know... And every summer that peat is burning. Question is how good we prepared to this. Can say - this year we are not prepared enough.

Who could know what all the rain will be poured on the Poland? Poland even now have towns flooded up to second floor. After months passed since peak of the flood.

Posted by: IWH_rus | August 11, 2010 4:56 AM | Report abuse

For 2 weeks straight, we've had temperatures well into the upper 90s to over 100.
For a couple of months, we've had one of the driest, hottest summers on record.
Our yard, an acre, is dry as a bone, and our trees and bushes are really suffering.
I can't remember, living here since 1975, and in this area since 1968, ever having a summer like this one.
The glaciers are melting away; ice sheets are breaking away from their shelves.
The Arctic Ocean is melting.
But there's no such thing as global warming -- no, no!
Don't worry -- someone will find themselves made fool of, soon enough.
In the meantime, we continue to be tone-deaf to shifting off of fossil fuels, while developing countries are spewing pollution into the global atmosphere at an expanding rate.
One day, I think we will be furious that we missed a real opportunity because we can't hear each other, nor can we learn anything, any longer.
Now that we have Wikipedia, Wikileaks, etc., what do we need with facts?
We have a lot to entertain us.
No matter that we achieve nothing.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | August 11, 2010 4:47 AM | Report abuse

Bobbo2 - Let's drag this discussion back to the message implicit in Toles's cartoon: that the worst droughts and fires in Russia for the last 1000 year have been caused by human-induced climate change.

Your argument - such as it is - appears to be that recent deep droughts and horrific fires in Russia are a function of its extensive forest cover and its dryness, the latter of which is caused by a lack of exposure to "ocean influences", and human-induced climate change has nothing to do with it.

The weakness in your argument is that, assuming huge fires and droughts are to be expected in Russia because of its lack of exposure to ocean-affected weather patterns, this is a geographical situation that has not changed for a very, very long time. As a result, it is not an answer to Toles's point (whether correct or not) that recent intense droughts and fires in Russia represent a change from the past (and are presumably caused by human-induced climate change).

The better argument against Toles's cartoon message is that specific weather events are unreliable evidence of the existence of broader climate change, and they provide no evidence that any climate change that may be occurring is caused by human activity.

This, of course, does not mean Toles is wrong; it merely acknowledges that the weather instances he points to are only indicative support for his message.

Posted by: Iceman3 | August 11, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

It takes enough gonads to be able to sort through all the flim flam from all sides to be a real editorial cartoonist so all other words are worthless except failure.

Posted by: jornolibist | August 10, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Without crowding out this column here goes iceman3. Russia is not subject to ocean influences. Therefore the rainfall in much of Russia is at best moderate. I will not split hairs with you nor will I end with some uninspired barb. Russia has droughts at regular intervals, and it is not caused by the carbon emissions of American automobiles. The center of Russia is over 2,400 miles from an ocean. A long way from ocean influences.

Posted by: bobbo2 | August 10, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Hi Simpleton1, We're not really arguing about whether Russia has a coastline -- there needs to be some doubt about the proposition for there to be a true argument about it, and there isn't on this one.

It's just that bobbo2 posts some whoppers on this blog from time to time, and sometimes he needs to be called on them, even if it may be a waste of time and effort.

Posted by: Iceman3 | August 10, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Dear bobbo2, Again, I'm not sure where you're getting your information. Most of Russia's extensive coastline is on the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. "Coastline", as you may remember from junior high, is land which borders on a body of water.

As far as Russia having little rainfall, it is probably unfair to generalize, given that Russia (as the world's largest country) has an area about 80% larger than the US and spans 9 time zones. Some parts are quite dry (like our desert Southwest) while others are wet. Climate data from a range of Russian cities indicates that most of them have an average annual rainfall not much different from the upper midwest of the US.

If you want to be a climate change skeptic/denier, go ahead by all means -- but I'd abandon your position on Russia's climate if I were you. In that fight, you seem to have left your handgun at home.

Posted by: Iceman3 | August 10, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Toles, why would you "rub your eyes in disbelief", when it comes to the criticism of The First Lady?

come on, everyone in the "political world" is constantly "under the microscope', hence... ridicule.

What I truly find laughable is your "vixenish wives" and Dick Cheney connection.

Water-boarding, perhaps....but where do(again) "vixenish wives" fit in??

You aren't a sexist are you Toles??

As for GLOBAL WARMING....yes, we all agree it has been a very warm summer! Is It All Due To Man Made Abuse Of The Planet???
Doubt It.

Something perhaps You should Ponder more Thoroughly.

I agree that we are contributing, but we certainly are not the cause!

And I didn't come to that conclusion from an encyclopedia or the Gazette.
And no, I will not reveal my source :-)

Posted by: bertzel | August 10, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? We're arguing about whether Russia has a coastline?!? Russia has a coastline, it's real, and it's spectacular. LOOK AT A MAP.

Posted by: simpleton1 | August 10, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Dear Iceman3, what did your information do to change the fact that Russia is over 250 miles from an ocean? And that that fact is the reason that Russia has little rainfall. I will answer that for you. NOTHING.

Posted by: bobbo2 | August 10, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

About your rant Mr. Toles, the lucid parts. By the end of the summer Ms. Obama will have gone on eight vacations. This one is costing the taxpayer over $50,000 a day for security and transportation. In a time of austerity this kind of trip does look bad. The average taxpayer's entire years income would be used up for the cost of one days security of this trip. It looks elitist. It is elitist. But hey you don't care because the President is a Democrat. And the President just doesn't care. Alot of voters do care. It costs alot to move the first family around anywhere. It is paid for by the taxpayer. In a time of high unemployment and watching pennies the voters would like to think that the President would watch our pennies also. Our President is tone deaf. I am sure that trips like this will not be taken a year before the next Presidential election.

Posted by: bobbo2 | August 10, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

bobbo2 wrote:

"If you would put down that tripe and look elsewhere you would find that Russia has little rainfall because it has little exposure to ocean influences. Geez, we learned that in Junior High School. Russia is at least 250 miles from the sea along it's entire border."

I'm not sure where you went to Junior High School, but Russia has a coastline of somewhat more than 37,000 km, which is around 90% longer than the US coastline (just short of 20,000 km).

But, as they say, never let facts get in the way of a good rant.

Posted by: Iceman3 | August 10, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to add that since 1900 Russia has had 22 droughts. TWENTY TWO. And of course famines over and over. Most of the famines in the early 1900's were the fault of that political system that you probably held so dear in your college years Mr. Toles.

Posted by: bobbo2 | August 10, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, is your only resource about the earth's climate a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth". If you would put down that tripe and look elsewhere you would find that Russia has little rainfall because it has little exposure to ocean influences. Geez, we learned that in Junior High School. Russia is at least 250 miles from the sea along it's entire border. The center is over 2,400 miles from the sea. Biggest country in the world, biggest forests in the world equals biggest droughts and biggest forest fires in the world. The 1,000 year thing I guess comes from tree ring analysis. Are weather records supposed to stop Mr. Toles for everything to be all right? News Flash, they are not going to. And the Democrats are not going to be able to legislate the weather.

Posted by: bobbo2 | August 10, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

You know what is funnier, Russian TV is one of the most vociferous of the climate deniers. Just tune it to it and you are dealt a daily healthy helping of "Global warming is made up", and "people are not powerful enough to affect nature" propaganda in both Russian and English (never mind that the same people are responsible the near disappearance of Aral Sea in Kazakhstan). Now the Russians are losing it all to forest fires from drought induced by the rising global temp. Imagine that.

Posted by: bushidollar | August 10, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

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